Jadeveon Clowney. It’s been a fun name to mention lately.
A former No. 1 overall draft pick. A three-time Pro Bowler. A defensive end once thought to be a generational talent.
There have been a lot of labels assigned to Clowney over the years, but there’s a new one that folks have been fantasizing about lately: future Seahawk.
Yes, Clowney’s name has been repeatedly brought up as a potential acquisition for Seattle this offseason. You’ll hear it on local radio. You’ll see it in national publications. And, of course, it’s ubiquitous on Twitter.
The Seahawks adding a player of his stature would send a jolt through every 12 paying attention. But I’m not sure it really makes sense for the team.
As it stands, Clowney is holding out for a long-term contract with the Texans, who don’t seem willing to give him what he wants. They’ve hit him with the franchise tag, meaning he can’t leave as a free agent, but even with $16 million or so coming his way, Jadeveon doesn’t seem willing to play in Houston.
So with the Seahawks ostensibly light on pass rush, wouldn’t this be the time to pony up a draft pick or two in exchange for a man who’s had a combined 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons? Um … not really.
The Seahawks already had an opportunity to lock up an elite defensive end in Frank Clark but traded him to the Chiefs in exchange for a first- and third-round pick. They used that first-round selection on defensive end L.J. Collier, whom they hope can approximate Clark’s production at a fraction of the price.
Clark’s deal in Kansas City, after all, was worth $105.5 million over five years, with $63.5 million guaranteed. So why would Seattle suddenly want to pay Clowney that franchise-tag figure and give up a high draft pick when he had 3.5 fewer sacks than Clark’s 13 last year?
One argument you can make is that the Seahawks won’t have defensive tackle Jarran Reed for the first six games of the year, something they didn’t know before they traded Clark. Reed had 10.5 sacks for Seattle last season, and nobody else on the team had more than three. So there seems to be more of a need for a guy who can get after the quarterback than there was a few weeks ago.
The thing is, it’s not as though Clowney would be playing Reed’s position. Reed is a tackle, Clowney is an end/outside linebacker. And the Seahawks already signed DE Ziggy Ansah to a one-year, $9 million deal this offseason, thinking he would play opposite of Collier. Are they going to pay for another end and potentially give up draft picks? Likely not.
Yes, the Seahawks do have the cap room to sign Clowney. But there is no guarantee they could lock him up long-term, meaning he could very well be a one-year rental.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider tried this with Sheldon Richardson two years ago when the team was very much in “win now” mode, but Seattle missed the playoffs and Richardson signed with the Vikings a few months later.
Perhaps the scenario would be different if the Seahawks were projected to win 12 games and just needed that final piece to become something close to a Super Bowl favorite. Or if Schneider and coach Pete Carroll were in the final year of their contracts, maybe they’d agree to pull the trigger and go all out for one more title.
But this is a pair that prides itself on developing from within. That was the philosophy behind their run to a title six years ago and an oh-so-close push for the Lombardi Trophy one season later.
The truth is, the Seahawks are unlikely to give up a first- or second-round pick for a guy who A) has had his work ethic questioned, B) has an injury history with his knees, and C) likely won’t be around too long with the team.
Maybe a few weeks into the season, if Clowney is still holding out, the Seahawks will pursue a trade. That’s what they did with left tackle Duane Brown two years ago when he was holding out with the Texans, and he ended up making the Pro Bowl
They probably wouldn’t have to give up as much in that scenario, and if their pass rush is truly deficient at that point, Clowney could be a necessary piece. For now, though, Clowney will likely be a player Seahawk fans imagine playing for their team, but will never actually see.